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10 Best Things To Do In Cannes, France


Modified: December 27, 2023

by Monica Horak

Cannes France
©Photo by Jim Thirion on Unsplash

You may have heard about the Cannes Film Festival, but did you know there is much more to this city than meets the eye? Cannes is a great destination for travelers because of its beautiful location on the coast.


People have been flocking to Cannes for centuries to enjoy the beautiful weather on the French Riviera. In fact, as far back as the Roman times, people have been falling in love with Cannes, France. This long history makes the city a very interesting place to visit even today.


Where Is Cannes?

Cannes Beach

©Photo by golanalbo on Pixabay

Cannes falls among the many beautiful cities to explore in France. It is located on the south coast of France in the French Riviera. It is about 690 kilometers from Paris, which will take about five hours when travelling on the high-speed French train system.


The location on the French Riviera makes it a popular vacation destination in both the summer and winter months. When people visit Cannes, they may also visit nearby Nice and Marseilles. Cannes is also a great jumping-off point to explore nearby places like Monaco and Italy.


Why Make A Trip To Cannes?

Along with the beautiful Cannes beaches, the city is a particularly beautiful place to visit because of its cultural activities and historical sites. For travelers who are interested in the food scene, there are some amazing restaurants and food-related things to do in Cannes.


One thing that people will notice right away about Cannes, is that the buildings represent a mix of both old and new architecture. For example, the historic Le Suquet district shows a glimpse into medieval Cannes. On the other hand, the famous Promenade de la Croisette is packed with modern luxury buildings that might meet the tastes of many high-end travelers.


Many visitors travel to Cannes to relax, indulge, and enjoy the finer things in life. After all, the French Riviera is the playground of the world’s rich and famous. However, the appeal of Cannes goes beyond high life. There are plenty of interesting sites to visit for those who are interested in history or natural beauty. And of course, Cannes is one of the most popular places on the French Riviera to enjoy the beaches and the Mediterranean Sea.


Read on for the best things to do in Cannes including Cannes beaches, sightseeing, and historical points of interest.


10 Things To Do In Cannes, France

When wondering what to do in Cannes, you will soon discover that there are options for every type of traveller. Whether you want to absorb the luxurious style of the French Riviera, or you want to explore medieval ruins, there is something for everyone in this city.



Stroll On The Promenade De La Croisette

Promenade De La Croisette

©Photo by hpgruesen on Pixabay


To soak in the atmosphere of Cannes, you can stroll along the world-famous Promenade de la Croisette. This is one of the main roads in Cannes which follows the shoreline for about 2 kilometers. It’s a beautiful place to people watch, stroll past the luxury shops, and enjoy the Mediterranean shoreline. Along the way, you will see upscale shops, restaurants, and posh hotels. You can window shop at the high-end brand name stores or simply admire the glamorous architecture.


For a true Cannes experience, grab a meal or a drink at one of the bars or restaurants on the shoreline. Most of the restaurants are part of the local hotels and it’s best to make a reservation in advance. This boulevard is the location of the annual Cannes Film Festival. During the festival week, a large red carpet will cover the street, transforming the boulevard into an iconic scene. When the festival is in full swing, the entire street will be full of filmmakers, actors, and other celebrities who flock to the city of Cannes for the annual festival.



Take A Day Trip To The Ile Sainte-Marguerite

Ile Sainte-Marguerite

©Photo by Tim Gage on Flickr


Ile Sainte-Marguerite is one of the four Lérins Islands, just off the coast from Cannes, France. The two largest islands are accessible by a ferry ride, which takes about 15 minutes to travel from the mainland to the islands.


If you’re looking for something to do in Cannes to get away from city life, you should take a day trip to this island. You can bring a picnic and explore the natural oasis just 15 minutes off the coast of Cannes, France. Another perk of visiting the island is the beautiful view of the city and the Cannes beaches.


The beaches on the island are stony but that results in crystal-clear water, which is great for swimming and snorkeling. There are also lots of pathways that wind throughout the island, making it easy to explore.


On the shores of the islands, you will notice the old fort where the ‘man in the iron mask’ was kept as a prisoner. Nowadays, the fortress is a museum which can be visited by tourists.



Sample Wine At The Abbey On The Wooded Island

The Abbey Lérins on Île Saint-Honorat

©Photo by Mark Fischer on Flickr


The wooded island is the nickname for the second-largest of the Lérins islands. While there, visitors can see Saint-Honorat Abbey. The fortified Monastery Tower keeps watch over the island and is a beautiful piece of architecture. It took 3 different phases over 3 centuries to construct the final tower seen today.


There are still monks living in this abbey today. The religious order is well-known for its tradition of cultivating grapes and making wine. The wine is famous in the region because every step in the wine-making process is done by hand. On other parts of the island, visitors can find 11th-century ruins and 10th-century chapels. The shore of the island is full of natural coves. There is a network of pathways throughout the island, which winds through olive and pine trees. It is another great place to spend a day in Cannes.



Relax At The Cannes Beaches

Sunny day on Cannes beach

©Photo by José Luiz Bernardes Ribeiro on Wikimedia Commons


The coastline in Cannes is full of spectacular beaches. As is common in the French Riviera, there are many private Cannes beaches that require visitors to pay a fee to visit them. However, there are also family-friendly and budget-friendly public beaches. The most popular public Cannes beaches are Plage de la Bocca, Plage du Midi, and Palm Beach.


Plage du Midi is particular well-loved because of the mountains that loom behind it, making it a picturesque place to soak up some sun. Another one of the popular public Cannes beaches is Croisette Beach. It runs alongside a public boardwalk and is a large stretch of fine sand, perfect for spending a day at the beach. If you are looking for a luxurious experience, the Plage du Goeland offers sun chairs for rent, which includes waiter-service.



Explore The Old Town

Le Suquet Cannes

©Photo by Miniwark on Wiki Commons


Away from the seafront boulevards of Cannes, you can find the narrow and winding alleyways of the historic town center, Le Suquet. The cobblestone streets and narrow alleyways seem to be frozen in time from the medieval era of Cannes, France. This entire area is now a pedestrian zone, which means you can explore the shops and restaurants in peace.


Be aware that the entire area is built on a hill, but the best thing to do in the old town is to make the ascent to the view. Along the way, you will find plenty of shops and restaurants that make the journey interesting. Once you reach the top, you will have a beautiful view over the city of Cannes and the Mediterranean Sea. During the summer, there are frequent outdoor concerts filling the streets of the old town with romantic music.



Eat Like The Locals

Marché Forville

©Photo by Tiia Monto on Wiki Commons


The Marche Forville food market is a traditional outdoor market in the middle of Cannes, France. It is a great place to buy fresh fruit, vegetables, and flowers that are grown on local farms.


Throughout the market, there are also stalls selling prepared food like meat and seafood dishes. On Mondays, the market transforms into an antique shop where you can find some wonderful treasures from the dealers.


This is also the best place to try the famous local dish called socca. Socca is a pancake made of chickpea flour which is cooked over extremely high heat. When served, it almost resembles a crepe and is a perfect dish to pick up as you continue shopping.


As far as restaurants go, you can find everything from food stalls to Michelin star restaurants in Cannes, France. It’s important to know that the entire region of the French Riviera has a very strong food tradition. Because of its proximity to the sea, it is not surprising that seafood is central to the food scene. However, the region also features typical Parisian-style patisseries. You can rest easy knowing that you will be able to sample the best of French food when visiting Cannes, France.


One of the more unique things to do in Cannes is to take a cooking course. There are different types of courses offered by experts in Cannes where you can learn to cook Mediterranean dishes. There is also a chocolate factory located a bit outside of town where you can participate in all the different steps of the chocolate-making process.



Visit The Musee De La Mer

Musee Delamer

©Official photo from Musee de la Mer website


Another unique museum in Cannes is the Musee de la Mer on the Ile Sainte-Marguerite. The museum was built in 1977 at the site of a former prison built by Louis XIV and current features many interesting artifacts. The museum displays archaeological findings from underwater excavations of nearby shipwrecks. It is interesting to see what has been recovered from the deep.


Since the building was once a former prison, there is a section of the museum where visitors can see what the prison once looked like, and can learn more about the people who were held here. Furthermore, there are some Roman ruins in the museums, namely some cisterns that were part of the old castle.



Try Your Hand At The Casino Barriere Les Princes

Majestic Barriere Casino

©Photo by Patrick Rouzet on Wiki Commons


If you want to try your luck while visiting this glamourous city by the beach, visit the historic Casino. There are 290 gambling machines located in the Casino, as well as table games like Black Jack, and Poker tournaments. The Casino is open from 10 am to 3 am during the week and until 4 am on the weekends.


Unlike some other Casinos in Europe, there is not a formal dress code at the Cannes Casino. Their website indicates simply that guests should wear appropriate clothing. For example, they do not allow guests to wear swimsuits or shorts.


Within the Casino, you will find a few different restaurants and bars which are great places to stop for some refreshments while you play. The casino is in the lobby of the Hotel Barriere Le Majestic Cannes, which was built in 1926. During the Cannes Film Festival, most of the biggest stars will stay in the hotel here.



Attend The Festivals And Conventions In Cannes, France

Festival De Cannes

©Photo by Hermann Traub on Pixabay


The film festival in Cannes is perhaps the main reason why Cannes is so well known. It is one of the most famous international film festivals in the world and attracts some of the biggest names in the film industry. Not only that, but the next great talents in film making are often discovered during the festival.


Along with the Cannes Film Festival, some other reputable conventions take place in Cannes, France. The Cannes Lions festival is a large advertising festival. Cannes also hosts a Yachting Festival every year in September.


As you can imagine, these festivals are usually a glitzy and luxurious affair. If you are not able to get tickets to the festivals, it is still exciting to be in Cannes during these times and to perhaps, spot a celebrity or two.



Stop By The Museum Of Art And Ethnography

Musée de la Castre

©Photo by leineart on Wikimedia Commons


If you’re still looking for more cultural things to do in Cannes, pay a visit to the Musee de la Castre. This old medieval tower now houses the Museum of Art and Ethnography. The collection shows examples of different historic items from civilizations from around the world. The museum building itself is a medieval tower located at the top of a hilltop in the old town. Not only is the museum interesting to visit, but the top of the medieval tower offers a 360-degree view, making it one of the best viewpoints in Cannes.


Visit Cannes If You Can

The French Riviera is definitely a sight to behold, which is why you should pay Cannes a visit if you can. The marvelous architecture showcases the rich history of the city and one that art lovers can really appreciate. If you’re headed to France, you might also want to visit the city of Nice, the wonderful city of Lyon, and enjoy the city of Provence as well!